Independent Assessment of a White Paper by the United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General

October 2013 - In response to declining volumes of mail and an ever-changing communications world, the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG) authored a White Paper entitled "Public-Private Partnerships: Best Practices and Opportunities for the Postal Service." Such partnerships are an increasingly common way for governments to achieve policy goals and develop infrastructure while shifting short-term financial burdens out of government. The OIG's White Paper discusses how U.S. government agencies, states, and international postal operators use PPPs, and how the Postal Service might adopt these practices to reduce the cost of universal service and leverage private sector competencies.

The Academy formed a three-member Panel, chaired by F. Daniel Ahern Jr., to conduct a study of this public-private partnership. In performing this independent review, the Panel and/or study team interviewed public-private partnership stakeholders in various public and private organizations. The Panel and/or study team also conducted a range of other research and analysis within the time frame available for the review.

Key Findings and Recommendations

The Panel believes that the OIG's work in this field is timely, important, and potentially profitable as the Postal Service works diligently to address its many challenges. This OIG White Paper represents a strong initial step, but perhaps due in part to its brevity and general-level focus, more work needs to be done that investigates further the risks, constraints, and uncertainties that would likely accompany PPP implementation efforts by the Postal Service. Specific business lines that might benefit from PPPs may not be a new concept to the Postal Service, as it already has years of experience engaging in partnerships. Even so, the OIG White Paper contributes quality ideas that have potential for profitability in the medium to long-term, and the Postal Service would be well-served in developing more detailed case analyses to investigate this potential.